“Why Did This Happen to Me?”

“That question is perhaps the most common one raised by patients facing a diagnosis of cancer for the first time. There are so many campaigns about how to ‘avoid’ cancer: no white sugar, no chemicals, all-plant diets, regular exercise, don’t smoke, don’t drink. I can see how one can get the impression that if one does all of it, cancer will never touch him or her. Yet, every once in a while, someone comes to my office who drives home the message that all most people can do—and all most clinicians can advise—is risk reduction, not prevention. Such was the case with Laurie*.

“Laurie was in her early fifties, the mom of twin girls. She had prided herself on being a health nut—aerobic exercise in the morning, yoga in the evening. She did not eat red meat and didn’t drink alcohol. Her family adopted an organic diet; she even grew her own vegetables. She was proud of her reputation as the ‘healthiest mom on the block.’ She had told me that others in her little town often sought her counsel about how to get healthier.

“Then, she found a mass in her breast. At first, she couldn’t believe it, thinking it must have been a blocked duct. However, it grew with time, and eventually, a mass appeared under her axilla.

“By the time she was diagnosed she had a 5cm breast mass and at least two sonographically suspicious nodes. A biopsy confirmed triple-negative breast cancer. She was devastated. Even more, she just couldn’t understand how this happened to her.”


Super Patient: Chris Newman Seeks a Second Opinion—and Survives Lung Cancer


In late 2009, Chris Newman thought she was just another busy person who kept feeling run down. “I had profound fatigue for a year and two bouts of bronchitis,” recalls Chris, who was a lawyer at the time.

Then a bad case of pneumonia took her to the emergency room, where an X-ray revealed a large mass—nearly three inches across—and several small ones in her lungs. A biopsy showed she had non-small cell lung cancer, a PET scan for sugar uptake showed it was extremely aggressive, and genetic testing showed there was no targeted treatment for it. Continue reading…


Unraveling the 'Black Ribbon' Around Lung Cancer

“A study consisting of lung cancer patients, primarily smokers between the ages of 51 to 79 years old, is shedding more light on the stigma often felt by these patients, the emotional toll it can have and how health providers can help. Previous research has shown that lung cancer carries a stigma. Because lung cancer is primarily linked to smoking behaviors, the public’s opinion of the disease can often be judgmental. Today, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death globally.”